Ziptrak® Outdoor Screens Create a New Living Space in Hastings

Recently we have received many enquiries around Ziptrak® outdoor screens. The growing popularity of these easy to use blinds made us reach out to one of our customers to see what all the hype is about.

Mark & Jane Davenport live in a two story home near the Hastings racetrack. They are currently sharing their home with their daughter and her family. “We are temporarily working and living upstairs, and we wanted to be able to open the doors and dine outside and be comfortable,” Mark said.

The problem they found doing that was that it is so windy. Having installed Ziptrak® outdoor screens downstairs before, they called on Douglas Outdoor Living to work their magic. “We needed protection from the wind and some sun. We get the cold breeze and the mesh outdoor screens block it beautifully,” Mark said. “The mesh screens give us the opportunity to open the doors and dine outside and have a gas heater upstairs as well.” “We pull the screens down on a hot night and leave the doors open. It gets the upstairs nice and cool.”

The advice that Mark would give to anyone having screens installed is to make sure that you put them up if you are going to be out of town for a while. “We were away last year during one of the storms and had the screens down. The gale force winds blew one of the screens away,” he said. “We were able to recycle the screen however and put it over the railings upstairs.”

“While the outdoor blinds that we install are very durable, they are not a storm blind. We make the same recommendation that Mark does about leaving them up when you are away, or when bad weather is pending,” says Mike Konig, Managing Director of Douglas Outdoor Living. 

Mark suggests if you are considering screens to have a look at the different screens (clear or mesh) and see how effective they would be for your own personal situation.  “We are really pleased with the mesh ones.”


The Davenports have extended their living space outdoors with Ziptrak Mesh outdoor screens.


Boat Makeover – The Great White

The customer of this boat wanted it to have a complete cover makeover.

Marine-Upholstery-Makeover Hawkes-Bay-Boat-Canopies-Screens Marine-Boat-Screens Hawkes-Bay-Boat-Cover-Engine-CoverOur team started by created a canopy for The Great White. The colour chosen was blood red. A zipper opening was created to be able to see out in case of bad weather. 

The canopy is able to fold down so that a cover can be put over the top. The Great White is going to be hard to miss when it is on the road.

Custom covers were made to match the canopy in the blood red colour. Covers were made to protect the motors as well as the boat while on the road or in storage. 

A custom boat cover allows for a nice snug fit which prevents any surprises in the boat when the cover comes off in the new season.

Winter doesn’t last long in Hawkes Bay, so come in quick to get your covers made today. 413 Queen Street West, Hastings.



Hastings Industrial Textile Fabrication Apprentice wins National Award

Every year the Outdoor Fabric Products Association of New Zealand (OFPANZ) holds a conference where members are able to enter recent projects into the Awards for Excellence. MITO ( the industry training organisation for the industrial textile fabrication industry) partners with OFPANZ to offer its apprentices completing MITO’s National Certificate in Motor Trimming and/or National Certificate in Canvas Fabrication, the opportunity to enter into the Awards.

Hasting’s Douglas Auto & Marine Upholstery is proud to announce that our 22-year-old apprentice, Ryan Stewart, has taken home the award for 2017 OFPANZ Apprentice of the Year (Tier 1).

Tier 1 apprentices are challenged to fabricate a messenger satchel using set criteria with the flexibility to select the fabrics

Ryan’s messenger satchel featured a New England Patriots logo, the American football team he supports. The judges complimented Ryan on the intricate design of the logo, the choice of fabrics and colours, as well as his attention to detail and overall excellent workmanship in the near flawless fabrication of the satchel.

Ryan learned a variety of skills while working on his satchel. “I learned how to do the piping which is something I had never done before. I also really enjoyed picking out the fabrics and providing the reasoning behind my choices to the judges.”

Mike König, managing director of Douglas Auto and Marine Upholstery says, “This award is a great reflection of the skill and attitude that Ryan brings to his work every day. It also reflects on the training he receives in our workshop. It is wonderful seeing young people with the right attitude being recognised in this way.”  

Ryan, a graduate of Karamu High School, joined Douglas Auto & Marine Upholstery in November 2015. Ryan was working in retail and was tired of the monotony of it. He had a friend working at Douglas Auto & Marine Upholstery who recommended he come in for a trial.

“I quickly found that having variety in my work was something I really enjoyed. I felt that having a trade would be extremely useful in life going forward and was more than happy to start an apprenticeship. I would recommend anyone looking at doing textile fabrication to get an apprenticeship and complete MITO’s National Certificate in Canvas Fabrication.”





OFPANZ was established in 1988 with fewer than 20 members. Nowadays, the association has more than 50 members committed to excellence and awarded in New Zealand and abroad for their innovation and ingenuity. The association represents enterprises engaged in anything from canvas fabrication, sailmaking, vehicle trimming and upholstery, to medium and very large structures covered in PVC and similar materials,  as well as suppliers of materials and associated components.

OFPANZ, its Executive and its members are dedicated to promoting, developing and protecting the interests of the manufacture, trading and marketing of all outdoor fabric products with exceptional quality and to recognised standards, both nationally and internationally.

The association seeks to provide fabricators and suppliers of outdoor products and materials with a forum for increasing their industry knowledge, developing new skills, legislation and technology, sharing experiences and the association helps provide a platform to network with other like-minded companies worldwide. Says Mike König of 0800 Sunshade “The value of this industry association lies in the establishment of networks and contacts in the industry. Although we all compete fiercely with each other, if a project is outside of our capability or region then we know a trusted company we can refer it to.  And if we need help on a particular issue we know whom to ask.”

OFPANZ is affiliated to the Specialised Textiles Association (STA) of Australia and became a country chapter of the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI), based in the United States, in 2008.

Contact : info@ofpanz.co.nz


About Douglas Auto and Marine Upholstery
Douglas Auto and Marine Upholstery has been operating in Hawke’s Bay for over 20 years. We are regarded as the most established specialists in the fields of vehicle trim, canvas and outdoor textile fabrication in the automotive, marine, industrial, commercial and residential markets.

Our fine work has been recognised in the number of Industry Awards we have won over the years.

In 2014, after many years custom-manufacturing, designing and installing outdoor living products such as awnings, shade sails, outdoor screens, sunshades and outdoor furniture upholstery we launched Douglas Outdoor Living Solutions – a brand totally dedicated to providing stylish outdoor living to Hawke’s Bay, capitalising on the expert knowledge of our talented in-house fabricators and tradespeople.

We are members of the Outdoor Fabrics Association of New Zealand and IFAI in the USA. Over the last four years we have won multiple industry awards for excellence. 

With our commitment to excellence, our tradesmen complete a 3-year intensive training programme through the Motor Industry Training Organisation – and over the past 10 years, four of our apprentices have won National Apprentice of the Year awards.


About MITO

MITO is an industry training organisation. We design qualifications and training programmes that meet the needs of the automotive, transport, logistics, industrial textile fabrication and extractive industries. We also provide leadership regarding skill and training needs for these industries in order to enhance workplace productivity, innovation and industry sustainability.


MITO works with current and future employees, their employers, and training providers to make sure people in the industries we serve get the best possible opportunities to learn and enjoy rewarding careers.

Come to the Home Show at Pettigrew Arena

Mark your calendars! 

Douglas Outdoor Living will be at the Home Show at Pettigrew Arena Friday 26th May – Sunday 28th May 2017.

Come have a look at our newest outdoor living product – Alitex. 

If you are looking to improve your home, this is the best place to see all that is on offer across Hawkes Bay.

We look forward to seeing you there. 

How to care for Outdoor Screens in Extreme Weather Conditions

For a place known for sunshine, Hawkes Bay took a serious hit last week. While we knew rain was coming I don’t think anyone expected the strong winds to hit our little corner of the country as badly as they did. We have only had one customer call with serious damage to their outdoor screens and thought this would be a good time to remind everyone that while our outdoor screens hold up great in normal wind and rain, in extreme conditions it is very important that you fully retract your screens to avoid damage like this.

We went to the makers of Ziptrak® blinds to ask what the best way to care for blinds in extreme weather conditions.

Their response:  Ziptrak® blinds are trusted by thousands of New Zealand home owners and businesses to provide an enjoyable outdoor living space. The strong and robust system is commonly installed throughout coastal regions and locations prone to high winds.

In windy conditions, blinds should be left down and locked, or fully retracted – half way is the most vulnerable position. During severe weather events, your blinds should be fully retracted.

You may find Ziptrak® spring-balanced blinds are a little tricky to operate during windy conditions due to the pressure of the wind on the blind material. Use your hand to push against the blind material to reduce this pressure and then operate the blind.

Care must be taken when operating motorized Ziptrak® blinds in windy conditions. They must be supervised whilst raising and lowering at all times.

Installation is crucial to determining the performance of your blind in wind.

Contact one of our Outdoor Living Experts if your outdoor screens got damaged in last weeks’ storm. 

Awnings vs Canopies in New Zealand

Many people come into our showroom wanting an awning when they really need a canopy and vice versa. So what is the difference between Awnings and Canopies?

The main difference is that an Awning is normally attached to the exterior of a building or motorhome and fully supported by that building or vehicle, while a canopy can be freestanding or attached to a building but with posts supporting the outer edge. With awnings, which can be fixed or retractable, you have the option to blend with the building or create a bold statement with stripes or other bright colours. Canopies tend to be more neutral colours and can even have translucent skins to allow more sunlight through. 

Awnings are typically on a retractable rolling system where Canopies are on framed structure, are more robust and are used for larger areas. 

While there are many differences between awnings and canopies, there are some similarities as well. One of which is that they are both typically manufactured with very durable material that is long-lasting in the sun and typically waterproof. 


As you can see above, awnings have different mounting options. 

1) Spring Arm awnings are typically used for shelter over windows, keeping out the glare and heat and protecting furnishings. An example of a spring arm awning can be found in the top right photo
2) Folding Arm awnings have the added advantage of further protection. You can find shade under these with projections up to 4 metres.
Both spring arm and folding arm awnings have the option of being motorised with a motion sensor to automatically retract the awning in high winds, or to have a crank handle that allows you to manually put up and take down the awning
3) Fixed Frame awnings are static awnings that give great protection over windows and doors. Many businesses will install these awnings to provide good street appeal but also to provide shelter for their customers from bad weather.


As you can see from the photos above, canopies are the coverings of a framed structure. Douglas Outdoor Living is able to custom make and install a tensioned canopy on pre-existing structures or as part of a turn-key solution. 

Our newest canopy structure is our Alitex Roof Structure. Alitex are aluminium roof structures with translucent canopies. They are waterproof, strong and stable while transmitting plenty of natural light and blocking harmful UV.  You even have the ability of adding on Ziptrak Screens to the Alitex Structures.

Come in to our showroom to talk to one of our outdoor living experts about what solution is right for you. 



5 outdoor living area cover types to shade you in style

As New Zealanders, we love spending time outside – especially in the summer. More and more homes, businesses and community areas are creating outdoor spaces that are covered for us to enjoy on the hottest summer day, as well as for great protection on cooler evenings, cold windy days and even through the winter months.

Al Fresco dining is becoming more and more popular – both for cafes & restaurants and for private homes

When it is unseasonably warm, uncovered spaces aren’t that much fun especially if they get all day sun. The only way to make use of these outdoor areas is to have some protection to keep the sun from roasting everyone and everything out there.

And while umbrellas or bucket hats could do the trick, we, as humans, like to be a bit more stylish. There are several options out there to suit a range of budgets. Let’s take a look at the options and see what might work for you – at home or for your clientele.

Shade Trees – This is the original shade that Mother Nature has provided us. For new builds it could take years for a tree to grow tall enough to provide you the shade that you need to keep cool and stay protected from UV rays. And, with deciduous trees, you have the benefit of more sun during the cooler winter months. However, are you prepared to wait years for the tree to grow to a practical size, and spend hours pruning it to shape and sweep up leaves when you could be enjoying other pastimes? We think not.

Umbrellas – Large sun-umbrellas can provide flexible shade. Have them open when the sun is out and then close them when not required.  They can add ambience in the evening especially with some special mood-lighting attached below the canopy. Umbrellas also have a second benefit of keeping you dry in a drizzle.

Some umbrellas are cantilevered, allowing them to be rotated 360° so that you can move your shade instead of your table, and be tilted to block lower sun strike. While others are portable – all you have to do is move the base.

And, with high quality fabrics now available, umbrellas can last 15, even 20 years if well cared for.

Awning – Fixed or Retractable Awnings are ideal for sheltering windows, doors, verandahs, porches and walk-ways where a single shade sail is not warranted. They can be made in a wide range of attractive colours.

Awnings provide elegance and style to your home, beach house or business and are available in a wide range of designs.

For added convenience, retractable awnings can be motorised and operate reliably at the push of a single button.

Canopies – Tensioned canopies are made of high grade aluminium frames and covered with a durable fabric, providing Hawkes Bay homes with waterproof & UV protected outdoor entertaining areas.  Our specialist range of translucent PVC’s are waterproof, strong, stable and surface treated to prevent dirt adhesion, block harmful UV yet retain good, natural light transmission.

Louvre Roof – Aluminium Louvre roofs give you the ultimate protection from sun or rain – adjustable according to the weather and your needs. They are custom built to suit your space and your needs – and add real quality and style to your outdoor living. The louvres can be manually operated or motorized and can easily have Ziptrak® screens fitted, creating a weather tight “outdoor” room.

The most difficult part about any of these options is choosing. So please come into our showroom at 413 Queen Street West Hastings to talk to one of our specialists and see all of the above options in action.




Plan Ahead For Your Outdoor Living Area

Quite frequently we are on-site at a customers home or business to do a measure and quote for awnings or outdoor screens and come across a roadblock that could be avoided with the right planning. Many of our customers know they want to eventually have outdoor screens or awnings installed. They like to take the first step and have a pergola constructed.  If you decide to go down that path, we suggest you keep a few things in mind that will save you money in the long run and get you the results you are after.

1. Do not have any exposed hardware – Having exposed bolts sticking out of pergola frames may increase labour costs when it comes to installing outdoor screens or awnings. Have your builder recess the nuts and bolt heads to keep surfaces flush. Not doing so could result in more costs later on when it comes to fitting your outdoor living area.


Exposed hardware is difficult to work around when trying to install an outdoor screen or awning.

2. Make sure the frames are plumb and square– This ensures your screen systems will fit neatly and work as intended. 

3. Use laminated timber –  Unlaminiated timber could twist and bow in the weather over time. When it comes time to creating our outdoor living area, having bowed timber could result in extra labour costs.

For a complimentary consultation with Hawkes Bay’s outdoor living specialists, call 06 878 6300 or email info@douglasautomarine.co.nz.


Now Hiring: Louvre Roof and Awning Installer

Seeking a Louvre Roof and Awning Installer in Hawke’s Bay:

  • Practical approach to tasks
  • Previous building or similar trade experience
  • Contract, full-time or part time role

Douglas Outdoor Living Solutions offer a versatile and complete range of weather protection solutions for both commercial and residential customers including  Louvre Roofs, Tension Canopy Systems, Awnings, Ziptrak® Screens and Cantilever Umbrellas.  We design and fabricate many of our own products and are also agents for some of New Zealand’s finest outdoor living brands. www.douglasoutdoorliving.co.nz

We are on the hunt for an Installer to join our team servicing the Hawke’s Bay and wider areas.

While you will be working as part of a small team, it is important you are able to demonstrate initiative to deliver and install our range of products by yourself when required. 

This is an important role where you are the face of the company.  Therefore it is essential you have good customer service skills and a strong work ethic.  Some heavy lifting is required.

Essential skills and attributes include:

  • Experience in a similar hands-on role
  • Mechanical aptitude
  • Ability to work efficiently with high level of attention to detail
  • A professional attitude with pride in your work
  • A focus on quality and safety
  • A problem solver
  • A clean full drivers licence

This is an opportunity to cement a long-term position with a growing and dynamic company.


Applicants for this position must have NZ residency or a valid NZ work visa.

To apply, contact Mike König at mike@sunshade.co.nz.